Beauty etiquette

Beauty etiquette

Some Emily Post-esque rules beg to be broken. But, while it’s no longer vulgar for a girl to wear diamonds in the daytime, impeccable manners will never fall from vogue. So should you tell the boss she’s wearing lippie on her teeth? And what’s proper attire for a Brazilian?

Your beauty etiquette questions answered…

Is it okay to apply your lipstick at the dinner table? – Gracie, NSW

experts agree that, although it’s become commonplace, it’s not quite polite to whip out make-up while still seated. Your girlfriends
might let it slide, but at-the-table touch ups are frowned upon at work
lunches and social occasions – the more formal the meal, the bigger the
faux pas. If you really
must check your look has survived the meal unscathed, take it to the powder room.

Is it bad manners to spritz perfume in public? – Lisa, QLD

is if anyone else is within whiffing distance. Never spray anything
when you’re close to others or in an enclosed area – passive perfume
is a real intrusion upon someone else’s personal space.

Should I tell someone that they have offensive body odour? – Nathalie, NSW

far as tricky situations go, this is the stickiest. Yet, with some
delicacy, it can be negotiated without embarrassing anyone. Simply, you
either see the ‘aromatic’ individual often enough to merit making
mention or you see them so little the issue’s not worth broaching. If
it’s a colleague or friend you see often, only go there if it’s a
persistent problem and exercise tact. Try saying that
you’ve been using a great new antiperspirant and find a subtle ‘in’
appropriate to that person, like, ‘This is really great for sport. You play
tennis, right?’. Whatever
angle you use, be discreet and don’t push the
point too hard.

Should you tell someone she has lipstick on her teeth? – Julia, VIC

You really
should. The most important thing is to mention the stray lippie
on the quiet, without making her feel foolish. And smile like you’re
not taking it too seriously – after all, it can happen to any of us.
The exception to the rule: when you don’t know her at all and she’s in
a senior position to you professionally. Your new boss might find your honesty
refreshing, or she might just think you’re too familiar.
Don’t take the risk in an interview with the MD!

To avoid getting lipstick on your teeth, pop your finger between your
lips after application, purse your lips and remove your finger slowly.
Any colour that would have ended up on your teeth is now on your

Is it okay to file your nails on the bus? – Zoe, QLD

might sniff that it’s out of place, but filing or buffing your nails on
the bus is perfectly acceptable (when else do you have time?). Just keep in mind that no-one else wants to wear or breathe in your ‘nail dust’. Obviously,
varnish should always be left at home.

Should you tip at the hairdresser? – Anna, WA

isn’t as customary here as it is in the US, but a gratuity will never
be unappreciated! However, you shouldn’t feel pressured to pay more than
the total of your bill at the salon and a polite thank you is all
that’s absolutely required before you leave. However, if you really
enjoyed the experience, love your ‘do or just feel generous, add 10-15
per cent to the total. If more than one person worked on your style
(eg. a shampooist, a colourist and a snipper), leave one tip when
you pay at reception and ask for it to be divided between each.

How can you politely tell your hairdresser you don’t like your cut or colour? – Elizabeth, NSW

make a scene, but don’t stew in silence either. Talk it through with your hairdresser and try to
find a solution. “Be honest and if you can’t communicate your idea [of how it should look],
show them a picture. Most times you’ll find the client’s idea was very different
to the stylist’s. If the colour is way off, be honest and look at steps to get to your desired shade,” says Brad Ngata of Brad Ngata Hair Direction in Sydney. To avoid the issue altogether, Ngata suggests you and your hairdresser agree on colour swatches and like looks in magazines first.

Is it rude to answer your mobile in the salon? – Jesse, VIC

level of appropriateness depends on where you are and what type of
service that you’re having, but as a general rule, you should turn your
phone off. “It’s not necessarily rude,” says Ngata, “but in order to give them a full, professional service, I like my clients to switch off their mobile phones.

you were visiting a doctor or a dentist you wouldn’t take calls,” he
reasons. “Plus, it’s in your best interest to not have interruptions.”

the beauty salon, it’s more of a no-no. If you’re in a spa environment
where everyone else is trying to relax, hold your calls and catch up
with the world later. If you’re expecting a truly important
call and are willing to interrupt your own bliss, set your phone to
silent vibrate, warn your therapist that you may be interrupted and
take any calls outside.

When a beauty therapist tells you
to change out of your clothes, do they mean all of them? – Diana, NSW

Your state of undress depends on the service you’re having. “For a facial treatment, you are instructed to put on a gown with the ‘v’ to the back,” outlines Jeannie Bourke from Venustus Beauty & Body Lab in Sydney. “Take your top and bra off, but you can leave the bottom half of your clothing on.”

a body treatment or massage, “take everything off except your
underpants,” she says. Some salons will give you a disposable g-string
to wear, but you can choose to keep your own underwear on if you
understand that some oil or product might get on them.

If you’re not sure what you should wear or how the cape goes on, don’t guess – just ask.

What should I wear when having a bikini wax? And should I ‘tidy up’ first? – Kate, TAS

your bikini line waxed isn’t exactly the most comfortable situation to
be in, but following etiquette can make it a little less awkward.

Obviously, you lose your pants while having a wax, but whether you leave your knickers on depends on how bare you plan to go. “Probably the best thing to wear is a g-string because your waxist can access the area a lot easier,” advises beauty therapist Linda Ayoub from Shimmer Face & Body in Sydney. “Though, if you’re having a Brazilian wax, take it all off until you’re stark underneath the provided hand towel,” she says.

for the pre-trim, Ayoub explains that it’s not
only a small courtesy for the therapist, it makes things easier for you
too. “Trimming the longer hairs before you go in for a bikini wax means
the whole
process is faster and less painful,” she says. “The less
hair there is, the less force will be needed to remove it.”  

– Tracey Withers

Beauty talk:  Are such beauty rules outdated and uptight? Do you have your own beauty etiquette dilemma? 

Editor’s note: This article is an edited version of a story from the beautyheaven archives.

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